He reveals all sorts of tidbits in this interview about his childhood, family, the children's book world, and Roald Dahl (he didn't like him, which I found both weird and interesting). One quotable item: his image of children's book illustrator is an "Ugly fat pipsqueak of a person who can't be bothered to grow up."
It's strange how I wasn't introduced to Sendak as a child. I don't know if my parents weren't aware of his books or they deliberately edited them out due to their "harshness". It wasn't until I was an adult that I discovered him and though it's blasphemous to say it, he's still not one of my favorites. I totally respect his work, and think he has some great viewpoints, but his style just doesn't "float my boat" as they say.
What books did I love? One of my earliest favorite books was "We Like Kindergarten" featuring the art of Eloise Wilkin. I really identified with this girl. She was in kindergarten and loved art just like me. I still like her chubby kids despite what some might say about the cuteness factor.
Another fave early book was "One Morning in Maine" by Robert McCloskey. I love the picture where Sal discovers her tooth is gone. That image is emblazoned on my mind forever.
Of course, there's Dr. Seuss with all his wacky words and crazy characters. I especially remember the wet pet from "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish".
Later I had a membership in the Children's Book of the Month Club, where it was Christmas one day a month. Some of the books that stuck with me were "Lyle, Lyle Crocodile", "Harry the Dirty Dog" and "Cannonball Simp".
It makes sense that I loved Cannonball Simp. He was an underdog (literally) and for some reason I always identified with those types. Here is a clip of someone reading it:
Later in my teens I started to discover so many wonderful kids books I can't even begin to name them. But I will mention some of the illustrators that I wish I had known sooner: Richard Scarry, Alice and Martin Provensen, Wanda Gag, Garth Williams among others I'm sure I'm leaving out.
So Maurice, I find myself becoming an ugly, fat pipsqueak. But that's okay.